When I hear a girl talk about how she has dyed and stripped and bleached her hair to the point that she no longer knows what her true hair color is, something in me is alarmed. It’s partly sadness, but mostly, it is fear. It’s the same reason why I’ve been relatively cautious to take drugs for most of my life. During high school, when some kids experiment with marijuana, I made sure to grill them. “Do you feel different afterwards? Do you feel any dumber?” Most kids at that age, of course, remarked that they in fact felt smarter not only after smoking up, but while smoking up.
I must’ve had this great love of my identity at the time. Despite being picked on and probably not the most comprehensible kid, or I guess because of this, I must’ve regarded my intelligence as a large part of my identity. And I most feared losing it.
And that’s still a great fear of mine. Every once and awhile, when I can’t quite wrap my head around something, when I’m in the middle of a conversation and nothing weirdly funny comes to mind to add to it, I start to wonder whether I was smarter just five years ago than I am now. I never used to drink, I say to myself. Maybe I’m killing brain cells. Maybe it’s cause I’m no longer in school, maybe I’m not reading enough. Nearly without causation I am thrust into a small paroxysm of fear, wondering “have I lost what I used to be?”
I think it’s important to realize that I can’t answer this. There’s no way to do a side by side comparison. I can’t even take the SATs I took back then, because they’ve changed too. What I do think is possible is continued change, more change. If I want to be able to think on a certain level, I just need to start thinking on that level. I don’t think there’s anything I ca n do for the circumstances I’m in — I have very little free will in that respect. But over my identity, I can probably grab some giant wheel somewhere, turn it in a certain direction, and ease it on a course. I could either dye my hair some wild color, or I could think hard and attempt a strand for strand replication of the original shade. It may not be a perfect copy. It just needs to look good.